Don’t underestimate the value of play
The importance of play in early childhood development
“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.”
O. Fred Donaldson
In an age where tablets and TV have taken over children’s entertainment, playtime away from a screen has never been more important. Playtime is one of the fundamental building blocks of a happy and productive childhood. In fact, play is a child’s inalienable right (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989).
So why then is play so beneficial?
For children, play is the very medium through which they learn. Not only is it the beginning of knowledge, play also provides a number of development opportunities in that:
- Play nurtures physical development
- Play advances language skills
- Play builds social skills
- Play cultivates the imagination
- Play develops problem-solving abilities
The importance – and long-term impact – of constructive play should not be underestimated. According to UNICEF, “research has shown that half of a person’s intelligence potential is developed by age four and that early childhood interventions can have a lasting effect on intellectual capacity, personality, and social behaviour.”
Play evolves as children grow. Different stages of play focus on different areas of development, helping children to progress cognitively, socially and physically. For example, solitary play encourages independence while cooperative play develops team and leadership skills. Then there are the different categories of play, which build different skill sets, including imagination and problem-solving (fantasy play), fairness and sharing (competitive play), and coordination (physical play).
Finding the right toys to facilitate these critical learning and development phases should be a priority for every parent and educator. In South Africa, Truly Toys has aligned with the Department of Education’s CAPS curriculum in order to supply educational products that provide a well-rounded ‘learning by play’ experience for children. We pride ourselves in delivering robust toys and resources that are not only educational, but full of fun and well-loved by our little customers across the country.
- Early Childhood Development: The key to a full and productive life – UNICEF (https://www.unicef.org/dprk/ecd.pdf)
- How your child benefits from play – BabyCenter (https://www.babycenter.com/0_how-your-child-benefits-from-play_64065.bc)
- 6 Types of Play Important to Your Child’s Development – Healthline (https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/types-of-play#12)
- 12 Types of Play Infographic – eLearning Infographics (https://elearninginfographics.com/12-types-of-play-infographic/)
- FACT SHEET: A summary of the rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child – UNICEF (https://www.unicef.org/crc/files/Rights_overview.pdf)